Call of Duty 4 Modern Warfare : Interview with
Community Relations Manager, Infinity Ward
(Xbox Community Network), with which Xbox Gazette is affiliated, has been able
to ask some questions to Robert Bowling from Infinity Ward, about their game Call
of Duty 4.
XCN : Be honest
- were you getting sick of being asked whether you thought the WW2 FPS was running
out of steam?
Robert Bowling : Truthfully, of course I was, but I get
tiresome to hear gamers say anything is running out of steam because in game development
I just don't think it's possible. Any concept can be horrible, whether done for
the first time or for the 20th time. On the same note, any concept can be Game
of the Year the first time or the 20th time. I don't think we ever slipped in
our 'A' game when it came to making stellar WWII FPS and I'm confident we could
have made plenty more amazing ones. It was more a matter of wanting to throw everything
out and challenge our selves to work from a completely creative slate.
XCN : Could
you fill us in on the development history of Modern
Warfare, and why Infinity Ward didn't work on
of Duty 3 ?
Robert Bowling : Conception for Call of
Duty 4: Modern Warfare started quite a while ago,
as the core team here at Infinity Ward has wanted
to make a Modern Warfare game for quite some time,
with actual development starting on the game right
off the heels of Call
of Duty 2. We've had two teams working
on both single player and multiplayer portions
of the game from day one giving every aspect of
the full game every bit of attention and development
resources possible, which leads into why we weren't
behind Call of Duty 3, we simply were focused
on making sure Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
had absolutely everything it need and the time
to make that happen. In short, conflicting schedules.
Treyarch did a great job taking the reins and
handling Call of Duty 3 while we worked in secrecy
on Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare to get it to
what it is today.
Was there always an intention to bring Call of Duty into the modern age?
Bowling : Always, at least with the core development team that has been working
on WWII games for longer than the war actually lasted. Modern Warfare has always
been something that would allow the team to really flex their storyline muscle
as we could base it around a completely fictional war, with fictional battles,
fictional characters but seeded heavily in realism of modern warfare and dealing
with very real action and scenarios.
: Call of Duty always prided itself on historical accuracy - how has this
attitude translated into the new fictional setting?
Robert Bowling : While
the storyline is based around a fictional set of events, the action and scenarios
that modern soldiers encounter and triumph over in modern warfare is equally as
real as the historical battles we portrayed in past games. It's still about infantry
boots hitting the ground, sending rounds down range, and fighting a well trained,
well funded force of enemy dirtbags.
In addition we spent a lot of time making
sure everything in the game was as accurate as we can, spending a lot of time
with US Marine forces, heading out to a local military base in California to get
some hands on time with their tank squadron, going through MOUNT / CQB training,
filming and studying every movement as well as mo-capping quite a bit. We also
went out to the firing range to fire and record on-site all of the weapons used
in the game to make sure we had the perfect feel and sound to the modern weapons
you'll be using in the game.
Everything in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is
seeded in real-life, you're using virtual versions of real weapons in real world
scenarios. So it's not too far from what we're use too except this time around
we got to take the reins of creativity and full craft a great plot around the
action instead of the action around a historical plot.
: Could you give us some background into the conflict portrayed in Modern
Warfare and where your inspirations came from?
Robert Bowling : Essentially
you'll play as several different soldiers throughout the game, from a Private
in the US Marine Force Recon in the Middle East against some militants causing
havoc in the desert led by their leader Al-Assad. While at the same time, there's
something going down further north in Russia by an ultra-nationalist force that
would like to see Russia revert back to the days of Stalin. You'll switch back
and forth from US Marines in the Middle East to British SAS in Russia as you fight
through the campaign and slowly start to realize that these completely different
conflicts could some how be more deeply related to one another as paths and storylines
start to cross.
XCN : What kind of gameplay advantages
does moving into the modern age offer?
Robert Bowling : Moving into
Modern Warfare has allowed us to introduce a lot of cool new gameplay features
utilizing modern weapons and modern tactics. For example throughout Single-player
and even in multiplayer via kill streak rewards players will be able to call in
a variety of support to their aide. Everything from UAV Recon (Radar) in multiplayer,
to strategic airstrikes to soften up enemy lines or take out squads in single
player and multiplayer, and even helicopter gunship support to give some suppressive
five and help you out from the air as you fight. As I said, in single player these
support tools come into play at various times throughout the campaign but in Multiplayer
UAV Recon, Airstrikes, and Helicopter support are part of a new Kill streak reward
system, where your rewarded for getting 3, 5, and 7 kills in a row without dying.
We've also introduced Bullet Penetration into the game that takes your weapons
ballistics and the environment into account when playing, allowing high ballistic
weapons to fire through thin / weak materials such as wood, plaster, or thin sheet
metal. This changes the entire face of multiplayer and makes you really have to
take your environment and your weapon into consideration when going into a fire
fight. It's no longer just about getting to cover, it's about getting to hard
XCN : And what challenges
does it create in terms of visuals, sound and gameplay balancing?
Bowling : Balancing is always a big thing in multiplayer games, it's something
that can make or break your game in a lot of ways. With Call of Duty 4: Modern
Warfare we've introduced a new system called Create A Class where players can
fully customize their character to their play style by choosing their weapon load
out and their three perks. Since we have a vast amount of weapons (over 30) in
multiplayer, there's a lot you have to make sure meld well together. We can balance
weapons, attachments, special grenades, and perks more easily with create a class
and default classes by making it a 'give / take' relationship. So if you want
some really powerful attachment like an M203 grenade launcher, you no longer will
be able to take 2x RPG's as your first perk for example.
: Call of Duty has always offered players a variety of characters and roles
to play - is Modern Warfare upholding this tradition, and give you give us some
Robert Bowling : Ohhh yeah, there's a huge variety in how
you will fight the enemy in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. I've already talked
about how you will play as both US Marine Force Recon and British SAS and while
both of those forces fight very differently, there are specific one off missions
where you'll fight as completely different soldiers than those two. For example
in one level you'll take the role as a pilot of an AC-130 gunship providing air
support for troops on the ground. I don't know if you're familiar with an AC-130
but it's essentially death from above as it hovers over and provides precise and
deadly fire from it's 25mm, 40mm, or 105mm howitzer cannons. There are also several
flashback missions which play into the story linen where you'll take the role
of one of a two man sniper team behind enemy lines near Chernobyl. The environments
you're fighting in as each force is quite different as well, with the British
SAS taking a more stealthy suppressed fire approach as they clear Cargoships in
the middle of the sea and infiltrate behind enemy lines in Russia, the Marine
Force Recon take a bit more 'brute' force approach with coordinated airstrikes
and full on ground pounder assaults with heavy armor support.
: What types of weaponry will players be able to wield in Modern Warfare?
Are there any cutting edge or experimental weapons?
Robert Bowling :
We're all about this being Modern, so players will take hold of a wide assortment
of weapons currently being used around the world by US, British, Russian, and
Middle Eastern forces. Not only stock versions of these weapons, but we've outfitted
them with attachments and modifications from the grips to the sights giving players
a wide variety of options when it comes to how they like to fight. This applies
to both single player and multiplayer, while in single player you'll come up against
some heavy resistence that requires some exclusive weaponry such as the FGM-148
anti-tank guided missile which is designed to target the weakest part of a tank's
armor, it's top.
XCN : Will the
player be able to commandeer or drive any vehicles?
Robert Bowling :
In Single-player there are several missions which are oriented around vehicle
support, as I said at one point you'll man an AC-130 gunship in the sky with a
few other vehicle missions which we're keeping under wraps for the player to experience
XCN : The trailers seem to suggest
the conflict in Modern Warfare will 'go nuclear' - is that correct, and what will
the experience be like for the player?
Robert Bowling : I'm not at liberty
to say regretfully
I'd love to tell you
but of course
to kill you.
XCN : What role
does your squad play in Modern Warfare? Have you expanded the tactical options?
Bowling : Like always in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, you're not some lone
do it all hero. You're a soldier, and soldiers never fight alone, so as you make
your way through the campaign you'll always been surrounded by your allies fighting
along with you. We like to put players in the role of the standard infantryman,
so you're never the 'leader' or CO of your squad telling them what to do, you're
just another one of the grunts. In Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare we've made your
squad very recognizable and relatable, their guys you're going to care about and
know their names, their guys you're going to grow to learn their personalities
and not just a nameless squad mate who comes and goes.
: How successful has the recent Beta been?
Robert Bowling : The
Xbox 360 beta has been a huge success. Thanks to the enormous amount of feedback
we received from it we've been able to really fine tune and tweak the multiplayer
experience before we hit launch on November 5th. The community has been instrumental
in the crafting of multiplayer and thanks to the stat tracking we did behind the
scenes throughout the beta we were able to see how it would be like at launch
and make sure we were prepared for it.
: What were you hoping to achieve with the Beta? What sort of lessons are
you hoping to take away from it?
Robert Bowling : Essentially the Beta
was the chance to stress test the game. It's one thing to test internally with
100 or so people in-house and see how it plays from home with that many people,
but it's entirely different to see how it players with half a million people all
across the world and all playing differently. It allowed us to really optimize
multiplayer by addressing everything from networking, matchmaking, and spawning
feedback to weapons, maps, and create a class updates.
: Finally, what's next for the Call of Duty series? Is it still possible for
the series to visit another time era?
Robert Bowling : At this point,
I think just about anything is possible. Our main focus though is to just keep
raising the bar and making games that we're passionate about and that our community
can get passionate about because at the end of the day, that's all that really
XCN : Many thanks
for your time !
of Duty 4 : official site
of Duty 4 : review
of Duty 4 : videos
Xbox 360 interviews
Xav & Max73, Xbox
Gazette, november 15th 2007
Thanks to : Robert
Bowling, Infinity Ward, XCN